McLeish pleased with battling Blues

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Birmingham boss Alex McLeish praised the discipline and self-control shown by his side as a goalless draw ended a run of six successive defeats against Aston Villa.

City lost their cool after losing to a disputed penalty in the corresponding fixture at Villa Park last season with Roger Johnson fined and Stephen Carr handed a one-match ban. And on Sunday there were strong claims for a spot-kick against Villa skipper Nigel Reo-Coker rejected and the midfielder then escaping a red card after kicking out at Craig Gardner.

McLeish said: "I was very pleased with the performances of the players and proud of the total commitment. They also kept their heads as well. The discipline was brilliant."

He added: "Gardner was treading egg shells with the early booking he received but it was another notch in his education in dealing with that and well done to him. The last time we were here, we ended up in trouble. We were fined. There were some comments made and we handled it a bit over-zealously.

"But we did learn a lesson. I told them to zip it, not get involved with the referee or the officials because they would give you short shrift. Fair credit to the players, they were courteous to the officials but still able to play with the passion."

Reo-Coker appeared to be struck on the lower arm by the ball in the penalty area during the latter stages of the first half.

McLeish said: "He moves his arm. It is human instinct but we've not had much luck with penalties over the last couple of years. It was no surprise not to see it given."

But McLeish felt Reo-Coker could have been red carded after appearing to catch Gardner with a kick in the second period.

The former Scotland boss said: "It doesn't seem Reo-Coker and Gardner get on. I deduced that one quite early. I did my Sherlock Holmes on that one!

"The ref makes the decision and rightly or wrongly Reo-Coker had a lash out. Some referees interpret it differently and don't see it as violent conduct. We saw the same with Samir Nasri at Arsenal a few weeks ago when he kneed Liam Ridgewell in the backside. I've seen them get sent off for that."

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Stephen Carr
Roger Johnson
Nigel Reo-Coker
Liam Ridgewell
Premier League
Aston Villa
Craig Gardner
Samir Nasri

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